Let’s not kid ourselves; Disney is a religion now. We douse ourselves in its iconography and worship at the alters of its stores while diligently learning the hymns and saving our pennies to visit the holy land. Like any religion worth its salt, Disney has had to shake things up and endure a reformation or two to keep new devotees genuflecting at the pulpit and, although today’s youth know not of the hard times at the House of Mouse, it’s perennial millennial children like myself, raised on the magic of the first Disney renaissance, that truly can’t live without its guidance.
Take, for example, Chip ‘n Dale. Cute and hilarious. Who could possibly dislike them? But given that a girl in a Tokyo nightclub recently tilted her head in confusion (as only the Japanese can) when I enquired as to her favourite Disney movie, assuming I simply must have meant ‘Disney character’, I think it’s safe to assume that some of these recent converts need to spend some time at Sunday School. Chip ‘n Dale are more than cute, cuddly little critters; in the 90s, they were stone-cold crime fighters.
The Initial Release 1988-1990:
Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers was one of several character spin offs Disney used to test TV formats for The Disney Channel in the 80s and 90s. The Little Mermaid had officially kicked off the new era of Disney filmmaking and the suits were eager to emulate that success on the small screen too. The idea was simple; take established Disney faces and drop them into different worlds. The cast of The Jungle Book became air cargo pilots and entrepreneurs in TaleSpin, and Chip and Dale got some slick new clothes and started a detective business in a tree with two mice and a fly. I guarantee you read both of those sentences correctly, but try again anyway, you’ll enjoy imagining it just as much the second time.
My Full Experience 1992 – Present
Ireland wasn’t always the switched-on, cosmopolitan, hey-gay-is-okay country that it is today and, believe it or not, once upon a time the only way an Irish child could watch a Disney cartoon was to beg your parents to take you to the video shop and hope that some other little prick hadn’t rented the one you wanted. It was through this, now nigh-on-inconceivable, method that I discovered Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers. However, being a child, at the time I was hampered by several of the key weaknesses of my kind, namely, a complete inability to remember anything not in song form and a vibrating etch-a-sketch where my attention span would eventually be. Truth be told, it wasn’t until I stumbled upon a DVD release of the entire series, all 65 episodes, in my twenties that I realised just how special it was.
Chip and Dale themselves are modeled on Indiana Jones and Magnum P.I respectively and their cheese-obsessed comrades’ name is Monterey Jack. It’s Gadget Hackwrench, the mouse mechanic, however, who is potentially the real retrospective star of the show. In addition to legitimately being the subject of worship to a small Russian religion (I’m not making that up), Gadget’s existence in a 90s cartoon totally throws generic gender roles out the treehouse window. Sure; she’s blonde, she’s curvy and was almost certainly the catalyst for my own first sexual awakening (I didn’t recognize the feelings then, but I certainly recognize them now), but she’s also a tough-as-nails, smart as a tack, bad-ass genius who invents stuff, creates stuff and frequently saves the day when her bumbling cohorts are on the verge of cuddly critter catastrophe.
Although both Chip and Dale occasionally compete for her affection, Gadget remains completely oblivious to it and is never even interested. Probably because she has, as she puts it, a “mind-bashingly high IQ” and Chip and Dale quite clearly have no game. So the next time someone tries to argue that we’re just not ready for true diversity in media, politely remind them that in the 90s a mouse made an aircraft out of a balloon and an empty bleach bottle and saved the entire cast of a TV show from a mobsters’ cat. Drop mic. Exit stage left.
In January of this year, Disney announced plans for a live action/CGI adaptation of Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers, so if you’ve never seen it, you’re on the clock; soon it will be spoiled forever. It’s a remarkable piece of work, both for Disney fans, and fans of classic American cartoons, and proves beyond a doubt that mice can be sexy, and cats can be evil. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to attend a Skype sermon in Russia. Gadget be praised.
Do you remember Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers? What did you think of it? Let us know in the comments!